Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Identity and Abuse

Over a year later and I still find myself thinking about the ways in which I was abused. With time I've realized it wasn't just my ex who was abusive but also people in my family. The way my father and one of my brothers treated me, I thought that was just the way my family operated. My mother accepted it and I learned to as well.

Through work with wonderful people I've come to identify as a survivor and not a victim. I don't cry as much as I used to. And I don't blame myself anymore.

I used to think about all the things I lost. These things were never tangible. I can't measure the amount of trust I lost in people. I was never able to show people the ways in which I felt like I was crazy. Feeling incapable of being in a relationship and a worthy partner was something I had to deal with alone because no one else saw it.

As much as I've lost, I've been able to notice the things I've gained as well. This wasn't something immediate nor was it easy. Everything I feel I've gained took a lot of tears and time. Again, these are not  physical things but I notice them daily.

I'm a lot stronger than I've given myself credit for in the past. I'm a person capable of so much. I can love and be loved. And deserve it.

Even though I am at a place where I notice these things I still let myself feel whatever I want. I mean that sometimes I will feel depressed, angry, or hopeless. It's OK. There are no rules or timeline.

Getting rid of the idea that I'm "supposed to be over it" has been the best thing I've done for myself. I'm able to tell people:

  • No, I didn't ask for it.
  • No, I don't seek out dramatic relationships.
  • SM isn't abuse.
  • I stayed for a lot of reasons, not because I wanted to be abused.
  • It's not always easy to leave. 
  • I can still cry or yell about it if I want to.

I know that I can be abused again. As bleak as this sounds I think it's very important to realize. Sometimes it seems as though someone who is abused in multiple relationships is shamed. Being abused once doesn't give anyone special knowledge to avoid it in the future.

Above I said I identify as a survivor. That is my personal choice. I don't think anyone who is/was abused has to use that term. For some, "victim" may feel more appropriate. Some people choose neither which is fine as well.

Telling someone who is/was abused how they should identify seems harmful when so much might have already been taken away from them.

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